Intersectionality and the Rainbow ~ Outside the Margins with Anna Zabo

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I’ve been thinking about the queer community and its allies and intersectionality.

If you Google intersectionality, you’ll get the following definition:

The interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender as they apply to a given individual or group, regarded as creating overlapping and interdependent systems of discrimination or disadvantage.

In the queer community (and with its allies), there are layers of discrimination. There are also layers of bias and ignorance. We shouldn’t pretend there aren’t.

The rainbow so many of us proudly display doesn’t just mean cis gay or cis lesbian. It also means bi and pan and ace and aro and trans and genderqueer and people who don’t label themselves but aren’t straight or cis.

Even people in the queer community don’t always know all the components of our community, and there are people within the community that think some of the people in it don’t belong. That they’re not really queer, even thought they are.

That hurts those people in our queer community a lot. Guess what? It also makes them prickly and upset and mad. It’s the same feeling gay people get when het society tells them they shouldn’t exist, that they should just fix themselves because loving the opposite sex is “natural”.

Does that boil your blood? Well, that’s the feeling bi people get when they’re told by other people in the community (or by allies) that they should choose straight or gay. Or not label themselves. Or when ace people are told by members of the queer community that they’re not queer, that they just have a low sex drive, are broken, and should go get therapy or something. Or when genderqueer/fluid people get told they shouldn’t use pronouns other than he or she because it’s too haaaaaard to remember or deal with. Or any other countless times when someone in the queer community is a jagoff to another member of the community because of their gender or sexuality.

It hurts doubly when this happens, because these are the people (and allies) who should be supporting you and instead, they kick you in the teeth.

Now, it’s not always a kick in the face, sometimes it a needle in the side. Honestly, it’s easier to handle downright rudeness than it is to deal with the little things like “What’s the point of romance without sex?” or “I don’t want to read m/m with a FTM MC.” Or “Oh, jeez, why is LGBT turning into alphabet soup?”

I think much of this can be mitigated if people stopped and listened. If they went out and explored areas of the queer community they’re not familiar with. Go read up about asexuality, bi-erasure, aromantics, or the various types of trans (there’s no one trans narrative).

And for goodness sake, if you or a friend gets called out for saying something that hurts someone in the community, don’t be so goddamned defensive.

We all make mistakes. Being queer doesn’t mean you can’t be an ass to another queer person. It doesn’t magically make you immune from saying dumb things. It doesn’t erase all your biases. Being a good person or doing good things doesn’t mean you can’t say the wrong thing. All your intentions may be good, and yes, you can still cause hurt.

If you do screw up, apologize and try to do better. Period. Don’t rant that your feelings are hurt because you hurt someone else and they told you. Don’t use your queerness (or allyship) as a shield.

Because we all fuck up. And we’re all capable of causing hurt, even unintentionally.

I’ve hurt people entirely without meaning to. I hate myself when I do…not them. Because I understand what it’s like to be hurt.

Do you?

~Anna Zabo

About Anna Zabo

Anna Zabo writes contemporary and paranormal romance for all colors of the rainbow. She lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which isn’t nearly as boring as most people think. You can find her online at or more often on Twitter as @amergina.

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6 thoughts on “Intersectionality and the Rainbow ~ Outside the Margins with Anna Zabo

  1. As I started to come to terms with myself I was so grateful there was this accepting, understanding loving community that would welcome me without judgement and censorship of the heteronormative world. It was a huge unpleasant shock to realise that there are people within the LBGT+ that I would be more scared to be myself around but gradually I realised that as much as we put labels upon ourselves and others we are all very much the same. We are people. We react to situations based on our own experiences and we are going to hurt each other but we are also capable of listening and learning and apologising and hopefully forgiveness. I came out to someone recently and his reaction was to express his confusion and ask if I would be ok answering some questions. There was no judgement just a willingness to understand and learn. That is the kind of person I aspire to be.
    Thank you for your post. It really spoke to me 🙂

  2. This was a fantastic post and needed to be said. Thank you. We all need to do more listening and learning, and do a lot less accusing/censoring/throwing fits because we’re called out on doing something hurtful. After all, if you accidentally step on my foot, a kind and thoughtful person will apologize, not tell me I shouldn’t have put my foot there in the first place.

  3. Anna, I’m not sure if you are calling me out, or someone else. What I can say is that, after realizing my post, who was not directed to the ace community per se, but to people who instead of approaching me, prefer to talk behind my shoulders and badmouthing the Rainbow Awards, after I realized it went out of line in the comment thread (and I realized 14 hours after cause I was stuck without internet for that long), I tried to accomodate them, I created a category, I asked for help, and what I received is other bad comments, I was called acephobic ass (and please remember, AFTER I gave them what they were asking), I did not receive any help, and there are no new submissions. The books with ace content were already in the contest. Proving my point that, having something immediately, without preparation, is not giving them the visibility they have the right to have. And do not forget that no later than yesterday night, they questioned my sexuality, my life, and they told me I’m not queer since I’m not oppressed… without knowing nothing of my life or what I had to overcome to arrive to a point in my life where from an external point of view, you can believe I’m not oppressed. That said, I did now what I was already planning to do soon, this is a way to proof the Rainbow Awards are inclusive, but no one said sorry for calling me acephobic ass, or to say I’m not queer (without knowing nothing of my life btw), or to turn the last few days of my life in a nightmare.

    • I wasn’t specifically calling you out Elisa, no.

      This has been building for a while, and is in-line with a few of my other posts.

      There were comments on that long thread that helped this post along, like the alphabet soup one and the one equating ace people with Ted Cruz and Mike Pence, and the general idea from *many* people that ace people shouldn’t whine or be cranky for lack of representation simply because those people didn’t know anything about asexuality.

      But it’s also seeing so many instances of bi-phobia in the past year, instances of people rolling their eyes when m/m authors come out as trans, genderfluid, or genderqueer (including me) because of *course* they’re just doing it not to be seen as cis women… it’s marketing, they say.

      It’s seeing comments on Goodreads that m/m with a FTM man isn’t really m/m (but a f/m book with a MTF woman *is* m/m)…

      It’s reading that m/m books aren’t any good without sex in them, because after all what’s the point in romance without sex?

      It’s reading that polyamorous relationships are cheating and icky, but only if they include women because m/m/m is hot…

      It’s the little things that I see chipping away at anyone who is not cis gay or cis lesbian.

      I’m sorry you were hurt by things people said. And I am sorry other people were hurt by things *many* people said in that thread. Hurt people tend to come out swinging. Or start swinging when they’re trying to explain and no one listens.

      What I’m saying is that maybe when someone expresses hurt, rather than swing back, we should listen to why they’re hurting, take a step back, and not react right away.

      And when we do hurt someone, say that we’re sorry.

      I am sorry if this post of mine opened more wounds for you. I thought that it might.

      But the issue is bigger than one facebook post and comment thread. This has been happening all year in many places, over and over and over again. It’s an-going, community wide problem, and I couldn’t stay silent about that.

      • Anna, I still do not understand (and maybe is a barriage language) if you want something from me (and I said me, sincerely right now I do not want to take responsability for someone else, I do not need it and I do not have the strenght to do it). I cannot delete that post otherwise people will say I do it to “erase” the issue, and you know they will. I went out to a post asking people (people NOT ace people, ace was the last straw, please read my post) to comprehend it’s not easy to have always immediately what you want, and was back 12 hours later to a nightmare. Even when I tried more time to make it stop, no one listened. And now, that maybe it stopped, after I put myself on the public wall shame, and had people calling me names, but at least they stopped (and yes I did it with a purpose, cause otherwise it wasn’t), you post like this. Maybe it was something coming, but putting me again on the shame walk cause I do not want to say I’m sorry to people who hurt ME badly, sorry but it’s not right. You should know how much I work for these awards, you should know I wasn’t ignoring the request, I asked to Lori on a public panel, really, sometime I wonder why I have to give all myself and receive this back. I know why, for the people I know I’m helping with these awards, and I’m not talking of authors, I’m talking of the money who goes to charity, but please remember I’m still a person who has feelings, not a point to make in a post, not someone who can be broken and forgotten the day after.

        • Elisa, I personally don’t want anything from you.

          I am not calling out anyone in particular. You can choose to assume that it’s all about you, but it really really is not.

          This post is about ongoing issues within the queer romance community and how that community reacts toward other queer people.

          As I said, there have been many incidents over the course of this past year that lead to this post.

          And it’s not the first I’ve made on this topic.

          It probably won’t be the last.

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